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Many people experience illnesses or injuries that prevent them from working. To protect them from losing their job, employees can file for help from the FMLA and file for workers’ compensation. However, some people fail to understand how these programs function together and sometimes find themselves working for a company that takes advantage of that ignorance. When you understand these two programs, you can use them together to protect yourself and your job.
The FMLA gives workers guaranteed time away from work to care for themselves in the event of a family related medical condition that precludes the employee from working, such as pregnancy, adoption, or foster care. Employers don’t pay workers during this time, but the employee’s job remains theirs.
Workers’ comp provides monetary compensation for time spent away from the job because of an injury sustained at work. This income may not exceed two-thirds of the employee’s weekly salary. The individual also receives payment for medical care up to a specific amount. They also retain all health benefits while on workers’ comp. State governments determine the amount of compensation an individual may receive.
No company may require an employee to make use of the FMLA if they must take time away to recover from an injury they received while at work. The company also bears the burden of making sure a worker receives all the benefits the employers owes them, including those from workers’ comp.
The U.S. Department of Labor states some employees may indeed be eligible for benefits under both programs simultaneously. In such circumstances, an employer must grant leave from work using whichever program affords the employee better rights and benefits. This requirement indicates an inherent limitation on the employer: they cannot force an employee to use one when the employer is obligated to give the employee the better option.
If an employee receives workers’ comp, this time away from work does not reduce their entitlements under the FMLA. These two programs can function simultaneously, meaning absence from work due to a qualifying injury or sickness can count as FMLA leave. However, the employer must contact the employee in writing, explaining this.
Employers must consider their costs when a worker must miss time from work. A worker may rightfully want to make use of workers’ compensation, but the employer could prefer FMLA. The FMLA absolves the employer of paying wages for time missed while requiring that all work benefits remain intact, like health or dental care. Workers’ comp requires the employer’s insurance to cover all expenses, potentially increasing what the employer will pay for the same insurance in the future. Where employers cross the line is when they discourage employees from filing for workers’ comp in favor of FMLA leave, as the law clearly states that employers should direct the employee to whichever gives the individual the best possible support.
If you find yourself injured while at work and needing to take family related medical time off, make sure you understand and take advantage of all the benefits available to you. If you believe your employer did not act in your best interest, contact a legal expert to explore options for receiving compensation.